Computer Security Notes

This page lists some simple tips for keeping your home computer safe. There are also some links to useful web pages.

Be informed

Learn a bit about your computer and internet security. A good site for this is Netsafe. Other sites are certnz, ConnectSmart, TSB StaySmartOnline, Tools for a safer PC, CyberSmart, Wikipedia, CERT, Schneier, Krebs, Cluley.

Backup your data

Regularly backup your data to a separate device. And it is a good idea to keep a copy at a separate location. This also helps recover from physical disasters such as fire, flood, theft, etc.

In some ways, this is the most important of all the protections listed here. The others can fail, and when they do, you will need your backup to restore your system. Software can be replaced, but invariably your personal data is not replacable.

Update software

Ensure that software updates are installed for your operating system and for the software that you use. Usually the operating system and some software will automatically check for updates. For some software, you might have to manually check.

Passwords

Use strong passwords, and use a different password for each website. In particular, use strong and different passwords for your email and for any websites involving money. Read these password dos and donts and check how secure is your password? and have I been pwned?

It can be difficult keeping track of all those passwords, so consider using a password manager (such as PasswordSafe, KeePass, LastPass. etc). If you are using a password manager in your browser, use one with a master password (such as Firefox).

Don't give your username and password to anyone, not even your bank.

Home network

Set the wifi passphrase (WPA2), set the SSID and change the default admin password.

Disable remote admin access (should be off by default). Disable and don't use WSP or WEP.

Browser extensions

Browser plugins and extensions like uBlock Origin can stop malware being distributed as advertising or with websites.

Email safety

Be careful when you click on links in emails, even if they come from people you know.

Be wary of email attachments.

Be wary of anything urgent or too good to be true. If you are in doubt, talk to someone about it.

Social media

Watch what you post on Facebook, Twitter, forums, etc.

Check your privacy settings on these sites.

Antivirus

Used to detect Windows malware, but mostly it can only find stuff it already knows about. If you have Windows 10, Windows Defender is built in. Ensure it is switched on and kept up to date.

Keep definition files up to date.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is the current version, and you should upgrade from older versions, like Windows XP, 7 and 8.